Tag Archives: Charlie Wiggins

Kitsap’s ‘other’ Supreme Court justice


Today’s paper has my profile Charlie Wiggins, a longtime Bainbridge attorney who was recently elected to the state Supreme Court. You can read it here.

During my interview with Wiggins, he told me he had suspected during his campaign that a win may make him the first Supreme Court justice from Kitsap.

It sounded a bit far-fetched to me. In more than 120 years of state history, no Kitsaper had ever served on the state’s highest court?

Wiggins said he wasn’t 100 percent sure, so he ran off and grabbed his copy of Charles Sheldon’s “A History of Judging: A Political History of the Washington Supreme Court.” Inside were handy lists noting each justice’s basic information, including their residence when elected or appointed.

Sure enough, not one justice hailed from Kitsap. Not even the dozen or so justices that served after the book was published were Kitsap residents.

Wiggins was relieved. His place in Kitsap history was apparently secured.


But with a little digging around at the fantastic Northwest History Reference Collection at the downtown Bremerton library, I did find some information on one other justice with a strong Kitsap connection: Walter M. French.

The Michigan-born French was elected to the Kitsap County Superior Court in 1912, after about a decade of practicing law in Seattle and Alaska.

French appears to have been restless for higher office while serving in Kitsap, and lobbied several times for an appointment to the state Supreme Court. He never got the appointment, apparently because his party-leanings (Democrat) never matched the governor’s (Republican).

In 1918, he ditched the appointment route and ran against an incumbent, but failed.

The years of disappointment apparently convinced French to abandon Kitsap and become a roving fill-in superior court judge. For eight years he traveled all over the state, building up his name recognition and political clout.

The years of unofficial campaigning helped him – as a Tacoma resident – finally win a Supreme Court seat in 1927.

Wiggins laughed when I told him about French.

“I never had to leave Kitsap to get elected,” he said.

Bainbridge school levy measures passing; Rolfes and Inslee headed for re-election

The two Bainbridge school levy measures were passing by healthy margins on Tuesday night.

Early returns showed the technology levy passing with 54.65 percent of the vote, and the operations levy lid lift passing with 60.64 percent.

Bainbridge’s Jay Inslee appears headed for another term in Congress. He was besting his Republican challenger, James Watkins, with 56 percent of the vote.

Rep. Christine Rolfes was beating fellow islander James Olsen to retain her state House seat. She had 55 percent to Olsen’s 44.8 percent.

Longtime Bainbridge attorney was in a tight battle with Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders on Tuesday night. Wiggins had 49.15 percent, Sanders had 50.85 percent.

See more Kitsap Sun election coverage HERE.

Read my story about the school measures below.

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VIDEO: State Supreme Court candidates take questions from the Sun

Bainbridge attorney Charlie Wiggins (seated on the left) is running against Pierce County judge Bryan Chushcoff (center) and incumbent Supreme Court judge Richard Sanders (right).

The above video, which is of a discussion with the Sun’s editorial board, has some glitches at the beginning, but evens out after a minute.

Wiggins and Chushcoff expressed concerns about Sanders’ impartiality and oversight of lawyers. Sanders described himself as a defender of individual rights with several years of judicial experience.

For more about Wiggins, see his website HERE.

Chushcoff’s website is HERE.

Sanders’ website is HERE.

Islander running for state Supreme Court

Longtime Bainbridge attorney Charlie Wiggins is running for a state Supreme Court seat.

He’s taking on embattled incumbent Richard Sanders, whose impartiality has been questioned by King County and the state Judicial Conduct Commission.

You can see my story on Wiggins’ candidacy here.

Wiggins has been quoted quite a bit in news stories about judicial ethics and elections. He’s also written a few op-eds. Two are below.

Judges should recuse themselves from cases involving campaign benefactors, Seattle Times, March 2009.

Reshaping state law in their own image is the goal of some PACs, Seattle P-I, August 2006.